A rare drawing by one of the world’s favorite Renaissance men is set to go up for auction next month. Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a Bear—a small-scale study of the normally ferocious creature, sketched in a more gentle and docile state—will be offered for sale on July 8 in The Exceptional Sale at Christie’s in London. The piece is expected to go for somewhere between £8 million and £12 million ($11.2 million and $16.9 million).
Measuring only about 8 square inches in size, Head of a Bear is said to be one of only eight known da Vinci drawings still in private collections, though that doesn’t include those held in the British Royal Collection and the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth. Still, that fact might explain the drawing's high appraisal. At the estimated rate, the highly valued sketch would break the current record, set by da Vinci’s Horse and Rider in 2001, as the artist’s highest-selling drawing to date. That piece sold for more than £8 million at a Christie’s auction.
“Christie’s is proud to offer another work by arguably the greatest draughtsman the world has ever known,” says Stijn Alsteens, international head of department in the Old Masters Group at Christie’s Paris. “I have every reason to believe we will achieve a new record in July for Head of a Bear, one of the last drawings by Leonardo that can be expected to come onto the market.”
After once being held in the distinguished collection of the renowned British painter Sir Thomas Lawrence and being displayed at world-class museums—including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the State Hermitage Museum, and the National Gallery in London—Head of a Bear will be on public exhibition at Christie’s in New York and Hong Kong before it is put on the auction block in London on July 8.